Bell to Sell 45 Radio Stations, Cut 9% of Workforce
Bell Canada intends to sell 45 radio stations in B.C., Toronto Quebec and the Maritimes while also cutting 4,800 jobs.
Montreal-based Bell has agreed to sell the stations to seven buyers, pending Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approval and other closing conditions. The radio stations are located in small markets and comprise almost half of Bell’s 103 radio-station portfolio.
Vista Radio has agreed to purchase 21 B.C. stations, the bulk of the divestments. Courtenay, B.C.-Vista currently owns and operates radio stations in B.C., Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Ontario.
Arsenal Media is slated to buy seven Quebec stations, which represent the second-largest chunk of Bell’s portfolio sale. In Ontario, 12 stations are to be sold in separate deals to Whiteoaks Communications (four), My Broadcasting (four), Durham Radio (three) and Zoomer Media (one.)
Maritime Broadcasting has agreed to buy five stations in Atlantic Canada, including two in Truro, N.S., and one each in the New Brunswick markets of Grand Falls, Woodstock and Bathurst.
Bell has implemented the proposed asset sale and job cuts, which equate to 9% of Bell’s workforce, as part of an effort to reduce capital expenditures by $1 billion over the next two years. The company aims to cut a minimum of $500 million in 2024.
Bell has blamed the moves on the CRTC’s on federal government policies and the CRTC’s decision to allow rival carriers to piggyback on its network infrastructure instead of building their own. Bell said the CRTC decision prompted it to reduce capital investment by $105 million more than originally planned in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Bell announced the moves in a news release accompanying the firm’s 2023 fourth quarter and full year results.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the reductions “a garbage decision by a corporation that should know better.” In a news release, Bell president and CEO Mirko Bibic said the moves are necessary to respond to evolving external drivers, accelerate the firm’s transformation and ensure the company’s future health and longevity.
Monte Stewart serves as Content Director - Canada for Connect Commercial Real Estate.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monte provides daily news coverage of major Canadian commercial real estate markets, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. He has written about the real estate sector for various media outlets and Avison Young since the early 2000s.
In addition, he has covered sports, general news and business for several leading wire services and publications, including The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, Research Money, The Daily Oil Bulletin, Natural Gas World and The Toronto Star.
Monte is active in his community as a youth basketball coach and raises funds for such charitable causes as Movember.